McCormick's Great Shooting Aids UMass A-10 Opening Win
PITTSBURGH – University of Massachusetts women's basketball withstood a furious Duquesne rally as the Minutewomen hung on for an 81-77 victory over the Dukes Saturday night in both teams' Atlantic 10 opener at the Kerr Fitness Center. The victory, UMass' eighth in a row, improves the squad to 11-3 (1-0 Atlantic 10) and the Dukes drop to 10-4 (0-1 A-10) on the year. Four of UMass' starting five recorded double-figure scoring in senior Hailey Leidel (18), junior Paige McCormick (16) of Heuvelton, senior Vashnie Perry (15) and junior Bre Hampton-Bey (14), while fellow junior Sam Breen shot 7-of-9 for a 16-point effort off the bench. It marked the first time that the Maroon and White accomplished such a feat against a Division I opponent since Feb. 27, 2016.
McCormick enjoyed one of best shooting efforts as collegian going 4-6 from the floor 3-3 from 3-point range and hitting all five free throws. She also grabbed five rebounds on the night. Breen was just one rebound short of her second consecutive double-double and Perry contributed five boards and five assists over 39 minutes played. A quick 8-1 run in the first quarter put the Minutewomen ahead early heading into the first media timeout. Leidel hit a right-wing three-pointer in the middle of the stretch which saw UMass force six Duquesne turnovers. Breen finished the period with eight points as the sides traded buckets the remainder of the frame, ending with the Dukes ahead by a 23-22 margin. Breen added another five points and as many rebounds in the second period, helping the visitors head into halftime ahead at 43-34. A foul on the Dukes and an ensuing technical late in the third continued to turn momentum UMass' way and contributed to 13 trips to the free throw line in the period. The squad went 10-of-13 from the charity stripe in the frame and stretched its lead to as much as 20 points as a result. But that advantage was trimmed to just one possession in the waning minutes of regulation, keyed by a 13-0 Duquesne run in the first 2:30 of the fourth quarter. A corner trey with a mere 2.9 seconds left left the Minutewomen in front 80-77 and, following a UMass timeout, Perry was fouled and went to the line, making the second attempt. A long-distance inbounds pass followed by Paige Cannon and Hampton-Bey was in perfect position to intercept the pass as the final seconds ticked off the clock to secure the Massachusetts victory. The result marked UMass' second straight win over the Dukes, third in the last four overall and first in Pittsburgh since Feb. 11, 2000–ending a 10-game road losing streak against Duquesne. The Minutewomen close out a two-game road trip at St. Bonaventure in a 5 p.m. game on Wed., Jan. 8 in Olean, New York.